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UC Endorses Calls on Harvard to Condemn Alleged Human Rights Violations During Protests in India

The Undergraduate Council legislation argues that Harvard has an obligation to speak out against alleged human rights violations by the Indian government during recent protests there.
The Undergraduate Council legislation argues that Harvard has an obligation to speak out against alleged human rights violations by the Indian government during recent protests there. By Aiyana G. White
By Mayesha R. Soshi and Lucas J. Walsh, Crimson Staff Writers

The Undergraduate Council passed legislation Sunday endorsing a petition calling on Harvard administrators and the University’s Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute to “denounce the detention and repression” of protesters in India under Prime Minister Narendra D. Modi’s administration.

The act, sponsored by Ivy Yard Representative Tarina K. Ahuja ’24, passed by a vote of 22-0-4.

Tens of thousands of Indian farmers have gathered for more than three months in New Delhi to protest new agriculture laws that they say undermine their livelihoods, according to NPR. The laws are currently on hold, but the government has cracked down on the protests with internet censorship and arrests.

The petition decries actions taken against protesters by the Indian government under Modi, alleging “grievous, unconscionable, and unconstitutional” human rights violations.

“Speaking out against the Modi government’s conduct would not be taking a side on a contentious political issue—it would be the bare minimum defense of human rights necessitated by Harvard’s promise of Veritas, involvement in Indian civil society, and collaboration with the Government of India,” the petition reads.

The legislation notes that the Council has an “obligation and duty” to magnify concerns voiced by students.

“The Council has an obligation and duty to amplify students in their pursuits for justice and movement building,” the legislation reads. “The largest protest in human history is happening in India with human rights abuses happening as a result of police brutality and government violence.”

During Sunday’s meeting, the UC also passed legislation to publicize a survey to gauge student opinions on the Sophomore Blocking System — a process that allows rising sophomores to choose whom to reside with in their upperclassmen houses.

“The blocking process has the possibility to be exclusionary, strain interpersonal relationships, and reinforce social divisions,” the legislation reads.

The UC said it will develop the survey results into “A Report on Student Opinion about the Sophomore Blocking System,” which will include solutions to reform the system to be more inclusive.

Sponsored by Crimson Yard Representative Lisa R. Mathew ’24 and Lowell House Representative David Y. Zhang ’23, the legislation passed unanimously.

—Staff writer Mayesha R. Soshi can be reached at mayesha.soshi@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Lucas J. Walsh can be reached at lucas.walsh@thecrimson.com.

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